Transgenic DNA from GMOs in Chinese rivers—why is it suddenly there?

By Kurt Heidinger, March 22, 2013. Source: Biocitizen

UC Berkeley microbiologist Dr Ignacio Chapela has discovered “the escape and establishment of transgenic DNA from GMOs” in rivers in China.

That’s not good news. The introduction of new kinds of DNA into the bios creates new forms of life and diseases, as Dr. Chapela reports:

“DNA from transgenic organisms have escaped to become an integral component of the genome of free-living bacteria in rivers.” He adds that “the transgenic DNA studied so far in these bacteria will confer antibiotic resistance on other organisms, making many different species resistant to the antibiotics we use to protect ourselves from infections.”

Dr. Chapela notes that his team’s research has discovered

“only a fraction of the many other sequences of transgenic DNA which must be expected out there in the environment, from all kinds of origins, with all kinds of possible functions …. the equivalent of the proverbial sighting of the iceberg’s tip. A polaroid photo of a small part of what must be a very large and relevant phenomenon.”

He asks: “why is it that nobody in the ‘West’ has been able to follow up on such leads, or even suggest doing this kind of work? One thinks of the work begun at NYU on soils, which attracted so much negative campaigning, and nary a recognition.”

It is both pathetic & dangerous that no major media source has covered this story. We don’t know the extent of the dispersal of “genetic pollution” and are totally unprepared to deal with its consequences.

Last year, I asked Dr. James Hughes, the Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, why Monsanto enforces patent law only on its GMO Round-up Ready corn and not on the  Round-Up Ready resistant corn borers it also produces.

He had no answer. It’s a question he’d never heard before.

It never gets asked, especially at the highest levels.

Dr. Ignacio Chapela, please allow to me to answer your question: why is it that nobody in the “West” has been able to follow up on such leads re: rampant genetic pollution, or even suggest doing this kind of work?

Our culture has, at present, no active value system that would require Monsanto to be responsible for the evolutionary continuum; on the other hand, Europe has kept the “precautionary principle” alive, and resists the introduction of GMOs into its biomes. We are a “marketbased solutions” culture and, as such, have short memories and myopic, selfish values. The bios is a commons; and our “marketbased” culture makes money by privatizing it, slicing it up into chunks like whalemeat.

The economy of privatization, and the corporate-person, in the USA is called neoliberalism. Its famous idea is “the free market” and its most famous deed is “deregulation.”

Ronald Reagan was its carny, and at the time, it was considered an extreme form of conservatism (only practiced in Pinochet’s Chile) until Bill Clinton announced “the end of welfare as we know it.”

Neoliberalism is now so mainstream, and so obviously and blamelessly destructive, that Barack Obama comfortably confesses that Reagan is his favorite president.

On the issue of the environment, neoliberalism has an ethic epitomized by a World Bank policy statement made by Lawrence Summers:

the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that…. I’ve always though that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City. Only the lamentable facts that so much pollution is generated by non-tradable industries (transport, electrical generation) and that the unit transport costs of solid waste are so high prevent world welfare enhancing trade in air pollution and waste.

Because he successfully broadcasts his plutonic ethic into US economic and environmental policies via a series of powerful jobs, Summers is one of the most destructive people alive in the USA. He was on the staff of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Reagan, and after serving as the World Bank’s chief economic adviser, became President Clinton’s Undersecretary for International Affairs, then Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, then Secretary of the Treasury. He served as Harvard’s president, resigned in disgrace, was appointed by President Obama after the Crash of 2008 (which was caused by neoliberalism) to be the director of the White House National Economic Council. Today, he is a Harvard professor.

Charles Ferguson (director of the award-winning documentary Inside Job) explains:

When other economists began warning of abuses and systemic risk in the financial system deriving from the environment that Summers, Greenspan, and Rubin had created, Summers mocked and dismissed those warnings. In 2005, at the annual Jackson Hole, Wyo., conference of the world’s leading central bankers, the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, Raghuram Rajan, presented a brilliant paper that constituted the first prominent warning of the coming crisis. Rajan pointed out that the structure of financial-sector compensation, in combination with complex financial products, gave bankers huge cash incentives to take risks with other people’s money, while imposing no penalties for any subsequent losses. Rajan warned that this bonus culture rewarded bankers for actions that could destroy their own institutions, or even the entire system, and that this could generate a “full-blown financial crisis” and a “catastrophic meltdown.”

When Rajan finished speaking, Summers rose up from the audience and attacked him, calling him a “Luddite,” dismissing his concerns, and warning that increased regulation would reduce the productivity of the financial sector. (Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, and Alan Greenspan were also in the audience.)

I have to smile, for I love it when technocrats call their opponents “Luddites.” As if that’s a smear.

If Raghuram Rajan is one, then a “Luddite” supports technology and systems that ensure civilization exists; and civilization exists only as a trust to living and the unborn; it is a commons. In comparison, a neoliberal concerns themself only with monetary profit, not with civilization, or keeping the transgenerational biotic continuum, the long body, healthy.

Summer’s “marketbased” religion blinds him—and in his blindness, his selfishness, & his arrogance he embodies hubris, the tragic flaw of elitist male that Aristotle warned against. Power corrupts, and capitalism centralizes power: Summer is a fool, a highly-placed, very dangerous fool.

And when he met Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, he found neoliberal 3rd-wayers, smart bipartisan poor boys who use politics to get rich; together they have almost realized his dream of instituting a “world welfare enhancing trade in air pollution and waste.” The Clinton Foundation pushes “carbon trading” at the same time it buys rainforests that will earn hefty dividends on Wall St. But Clinton is among friends, all 1%ers, who hope to profit on pollution, not prevent it—epitomizing the plutonic neoliberal ethic in action.

There is no $$ to be made on Wall Street in the prevention of pollution, chemical or genetic. And until the day there is, we are all “UNDERpolluted.”

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Filed under Biodiversity, Commodification of Life, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Pollution, Water

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